Health Advice From Douglas Fairbanks' 1917 Self-Help Manual, "Laugh and Live"

Douglas Fairbanks

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Douglas Fairbanks

Laugh, For It Keeps Your Blood Red

"I like to laugh. It is a tonic. It braces me up—makes me feel fine!—and keeps me in prime mental condition. Laughter is a physiological necessity. The nerve system requires it. The deep, forceful chest movement in itself sets the blood to racing thereby livening up the circulation—which is good for us. Perhaps you hadn't thought of that? Perhaps you didn't realize that laughing automatically re-oxygenates the blood—your blood—and keeps it red? It does all of that, and besides, it relieves the tension from your brain."

I'm Not Entirely Sure. You Need Sand I Think

"Take the average man on the street for example. Watch him go plodding along—no spring, no elasticity, no vim. He is in check-rein—how can he laugh when his pep is all gone and the sand in his craw isn't there any more? What he needs is spirit! Energy—the power to force himself into action! For him there is no hope unless he will take up physical training in some form that will put him in normal physical condition—after that everything simplifies itself. The brain responds to the new blood in circulation and thus the mental processes are ready to make a fight against the inertia of stagnation which has held them in bondage."

Again Laughter

"Smiling is better than nothing, and a chuckle is better still—but out and out laughter is the real thing. Try it now if you dare! And when you've done it, analyze your feelings."

I Am Again Lost

"There was a time, long years ago, in the days of our grandfathers, when men went to the "bow-wows" and, later on, "came back" as it were, by making a partial success in life—measured largely by the money they succeeded in accumulating. That was before the "check-up" system was invented. Today things are different. Questions are asked—"Where were you last?"—"Why did you leave there?"—"Have you credentials?"—and when we shake our weary head and walk away, we fondly wish we had "taken stock" back there when the "taking" was good."


"Love of home is a quality of the workers of the earth."

There's That Sand Again

"Yet the average man goes into life with as little knowledge of its forces as the baby who puts its foot upon the third rail. That fact keeps the thoughtless man down until experience comes to the rescue. When it does come, if he has the sand, the common sense, the will to do, there is naught to hold him away from his goal."

Personality Is Coming Into Its Own These Days

"More and more personality is coming into its own as man's greatest asset."

You Heard The Man

"No man of refined personality would walk the streets with a soiled face or uncombed hair. Such things do not give poise."

I Don't Think That Can Happen to Tadpoles

"They were like tadpoles that had never grown to frogs ... they just kept swimming around in their muddy puddles and, not having grown legs with which they could leap out onto the banks and away to other climes, they continued to swim in monotonous circles until they died. In other words, the failure is a man who dwells in muddy atmosphere all his days, who is content to remain a tadpole and who never attempts to take advantage of any opportunity."

Be Like Roosevelt

"Roosevelt, perhaps more than any other living man today, has given vitality to the supreme necessity of cleanliness of mind and body. He has, by reason of his great prominence, been able to emphasize these two vital essentials. He called a spade a spade and his message went far. From those who knew the value of his words came nods of approval—others took heed. From boyhood he has systematized his life, taking the exercise needed, filling his mind with the learning of the world, winning when others would have failed, profiting by experience allotted to him through fate's kindly offices and association with the healthy, true men. What has been the result? He has risen to the very pinnacle of human endeavor ... no honors await him. He has lived consistently and cleanly and he can look any man in the eye and say honestly: "I have lived as I have believed."

It is not necessary to become President in order to live sanely, to gain from circumstances the fruits that are ours for the asking and which have fallen into Roosevelt's hands with such profusion."

Sit Well

"For instance, we can sit down in a chair and in so doing can add a certain amount of exercise to the action itself—also in rising. With very little effort we can come into the habit of sitting correctly—posing the body as it should be—holding the shoulders in proper position—also the chin so that it becomes a hardship to sit improperly."

Jaunty Too

"Oh! it's fine to be physically and mentally fit!"

Be Like the City Editor

"Once a cub reporter was ordered by his city editor to go and interview a certain man. After an awkward pause the youngster inquired: 'Where can I find him?' Smiling scornfully into his eyes the city editor replied: 'Wherever he is.'"

Bad Teeth Fixed By A Blow To The Jaw

"Perhaps he has a bad stomach, and likewise bad teeth. Exercise—regular exercise, should be the first thing on his program. Fresh air, long walks, deep breathing, dumb bells, boxing, rowing, skating in season—and wholesome companionship day by day. In the long run boxing will become his most efficient exercise. When a man can take a blow between the eyes and come back for more he has begun to fortify his own combativeness. That is what he needs in life's battles—the nerve to come back for more after a slam on the jaw that would lay another man low."

Lost Again

"Meanwhile—dadgast the luck!—always the fates pursued him with some sort of hoodoo."

Husbands Can Like Their Wives Just As Much As Men

"Two men can go through life the best of friends, each holding the respect and confidence of the other. So can two women. Then, why not a man and wife? Needless to say they can, and do."

Well Who Are They Doug

"Of course there are those who should never marry. They do, however, and when they do they loan themselves to the mockery of the marriage state. There is no time to dwell on this thought for it is just something that goes on happening anyway and has no bearing upon the advisability of "wedlock in time" between people of horse sense."

Honorable mentions from George Creel's "Close-Up of Douglas Fairbanks" Afterward:

We Are A Great Country Full Of Little Bitches

"We are a young nation and a great nation. Judging from the promise of the morning, there is nothing that may not be asked of America's noon. A land of abundance, with not an evil that may not be banished, and yet there is more whining in it than in any other country on the face of the globe."

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